Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Stepping Out

This Sunday, we will be exploring one of the strangest stories in the Gospels. Jesus’ ministry is coming to a close. He is talking more and more about leaving, about dying. I am not sure that the disciples fully understood his predictions. Midway through Luke 9, we are able to peer into a private conversation between Jesus and his disciples.

(Luke 9:18-20 NIV) Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say I am?” . . . “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter is the first to speak up. He confirms that Jesus is the Christ. Yet Peter does not seem to comprehend the full ramifications of this claim. Jesus explains,

(Luke 9:22 NIV) The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Jesus clarifies his mission and the requirements of his followers in fulfilling the work of his Kingdom. I imagine a lot of head scratching in the group that day. You would think they might begin to grasp his words. But the next story reveals their lack of understanding. We read,

(Luke 9:28 NIV) About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray.

This encouter on the mountain looks more like a sci-fi movie than a story from first century Palestine. Jesus lights up in an unexplainable white glow. Visitors, who have been dead for hundreds of years (Moses and Elijah), show up. They are in conversation with Jesus. In the end, the disciples are left speechless.

A key point in this story is Peter’s failed attempt to set up shop on the mountain. Peter sees the spectacular happenings and longs to stay. He suggests setting up tents and worshiping on the mountain. It is almost as if he completely forgot Jesus’ words from eight days ago. Perhaps he remembers them but desperately wants to avoid them. Either way, he completely misses what God is doing. God is confirming Jesus’ identity and planning the redemption of the world. Peter wants to hide out on the mountain in selfish comfort.

While we are quick to mock Peter’s actions, we struggle with the same desire. We are sometimes eager to set up cozy environments. We enjoy the serenity of living apart from the world. Yet, God calls us to join Him on His mission. He refuses to condone our self-centered ministries. We must get into the world if we truly desire to follow Jesus. May we be attentive to the work of His Kingdom. May we eagerly join Him as he transforms our world through you and me.

As we step out into God’s calling, it is never easy. I often read Shane Claiborne’s Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals in the mornings. Not too long ago, I came across this prayer. As I close this post, I would pray for the courage to walk into the uneasy places as God calls us.

Lord, we do not always rush to do your will. Often we tiptoe our way into obedience, dragging old habits and mindsets with us. Help us to delight at your voice and to trust that your calling is always good news. Amen. (p. 57)